Dogs Smelling Coronavirus – A Future in Detection?

Dogs have unbelievable smelling capabilities

Dogs have remarkable noses. Some can smell drugs, cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, malaria, sadness, fear, anxiety, and more. Their noses have 300 million olfactory receptors compared to the 6 million humans have. They can detect one to two parts in a trillion of specific molecules. A few can detect a dead body buried forty feet underground.

Dogs Smelling COVID-19

A small group of dogs was trained to detect samples from patients infected with the coronavirus. The results of a randomized, double-blinded, and controlled study were better than expected. They had a detection rate of 94% and were correct about 83% of the time after initial training of only one week. https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-020-05281-3

Dogs are already in operation at Dubai airport to sniff travelers that are infected with SARS-CoV-2. The virus does not have an odor. Scientists have determined that the dogs do not detect the virus itself, but the secretions from a body infected with COVID-19.

The Process

Human saliva, sweat, and urine must be collected from infected patients and processed to ensure the virus is not transmitted to anyone. The infected materials must also be kept from the dogs to prevent the dogs from catching the disease. Dogs’ sense of smell is good enough to detect odors in proximity without direct exposure to the virus. https://slate.com/technology/2020/08/covid-19-sniffing-dogs.html

Dogs with special scent training can be trained within a short period of time. Otherwise, it can take three to six months. Not all training is successful

Large-scale Test

A short video is available on YouTube (the genesis for this article) about the large-scale success at Helsinki (Finland) airport. The dogs and the passengers never see each other.

Passengers have their skin swabbed. The swabs are placed in a container in a separate room where the dog sniffs the cup. This process is fast and protects the dog. Passengers with positive tests are directed to a health station in the airport.

Two dogs are working for a shift and two are resting. Scientists have determined that dogs can determine an odor with as few as 10 to 100 molecules of a substance. COVID-19 test equipment requires 18 million molecules to detect the virus. The Helsinki dogs have a detection rate of 100% and a specificity rate of almost as high. https://www.sciencealert.com/dogs-deployed-at-helsinki-airport-can-detect-covid-19-with-near-perfect-accuracy. This large-scale test will last for four months.

Conclusion

Saudi Arabia, France, Chile, Australia, and Brazil are actively investigating the use of dogs to detect COVID-19 patients. Many places in the world do not have the diagnostic technology to test masses of people. The use of trained dogs might be a potential option.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com

 

 


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